Year after year, Nordic countries are ranked as some of the happiest countries in the entire world. They don’t get much sunlight and the winters are unbearably cold—so what’s their secret? It could very well be due to their unique architecture and design choices. As we all know, your home environment has a big impact on your overall happiness, and it looks like the Scandinavian have cracked the code.
Scandinavian architecture is all about merging the structure of the home with the surrounding natural environment. Let’s take a look at some of the elements you’ll find in almost every Scandinavian home and how you can incorporate it into your own environment.
Concrete is everywhere in Scandinavian interior design because, even though you may not realize it at first, concrete is a natural construction material. There are only a handful of ingredients in concrete: cement, water, sand, gravel, and air. Its long lifespan, use of natural materials, and rough exterior has made it a staple in Scandinavian architecture and interior design. Nordic countries use concrete in every room in the home. From the kitchen countertops and bathroom floors to the furniture in the living room and outdoor patio, concrete as a design element is everywhere. There are lots of DIY projects out there you can easily do to add some beautiful (yes beautiful) concrete to your Scandinavian-inspired home.
Scandinavians use every opportunity to incorporate nature inside their home. Wood is an obvious—yet classic—choice for nature-inspired architecture and interior design. Look around any Scandinavian style home and you’ll see raw and cut wood everywhere to feel closer to nature and to help the home blend into its surrounding environment.
If you want to incorporate more wood into your home, start small. Wood can be expensive and you don’t want to waste the resource if you’re going to switch to a new style as soon as a new trend pops up. Adding a rough cut wood table to your living room or wooden coasters can help you feel closer to nature without breaking the bank.
You’re not going to find many neon throw pillows and bright pink decorations in Scandinavian design. They’re all about neutral color schemes. Using only natural colors helps the home blend into the environment outside and makes it feel like an extension of nature itself. Nordic homes tend to lean toward the warmer neutral tones instead of cooler colors, but both can help you achieve a more Scandinavian feel to your home. If you want to update your home’s interior to this style, try switching out light fixtures for softer lighting, adding neutral-colored blankets and pillows, and painting walls a neutral tone.
Even though there usually aren’t many knick knacks placed around Scandinavian homes, there is one thing you can find everywhere: plants. Scandinavian interior design doesn’t differentiate between the indoors and outdoors. From a design standpoint, they’re one and the same. Because they want to add as many natural elements inside their home, houseplants are common decorations.
If you don’t have a green thumb, no problem. There are lots of easy to care for plants that can survive both the freezing Nordic temperatures and your home. Spider plants, aloe vera plants, and air plants are all easy to keep alive and can help make your interior more in tune with nature.
When you live in a region so close to the Arctic Circle, you’re not going to get much sunlight. For a lot of people, that would be a deal breaker. But for Scandinavians, they take advantage of the limited sunlight and design their homes around maximizing the amount of natural sunlight they get.
When you’re designing your home, big windows, skylights, and even glass walls can bring in that beautiful natural light inside. If you make natural light a priority in your house, you can save money on energy bills, lower your environmental footprint, and even improve your mental health.
Scandinavian design focuses on function over everything else. You won’t see lots of clutter since the minimalistic style and mentality is so ingrained into their interior design choices and everyday life. If you want to transition to a more Nordic style home, you don’t have to throw away everything you own—it’s all about being more intentional with the items you choose to buy and add to your life. Take a page from the Marie Kondo philosophy and ask yourself “does this bring me joy?” before buying something. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it. If it’s something you already own, donate it. You’ll get rid of physical and mental clutter.
There’s a reason the Scandanivan people are some of the happiest on Earth. Having an inviting and comforting living space is very important. By incorporating natural elements and filling your home with functional items, you can create an environment where you are most at peace.
About The Author: A true digital nomad, Emma spends her time writing and traveling the globe in pursuit of her next great adventure. From travel guides to career advice, she hopes to help readers see the world as she experiences it—helping others craft a life where they can work hard and play often. Join the journey @Emma_G_Davis.
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash
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